New Adult

New adult fiction, most simply put, is very similar to coming of age literature. These pieces of fiction show their protagonists shifting from adolescence to adulthood. Protagonists within the novels tend to be in their late teens and early twenties who experience “adult” circumstances. Obviously, this literature markets to post-adolescents or “new adults,” readers from age 18 to 25. Such novels deal with relationships, sexuality, and other complex situations (i.e. leaving home, education after high school, careers, etc.) that force its player to become who they want to become. Some might ask, “What’s the difference between a coming-of-age novel and New Adult?” Sommer Leigh, a new adult writer, has said, “The heart of the YA is the coming-of-age story about a teen’s first step towards deciding who they are and what they want to become. The coming-of-age story in New Adult is about actually becoming that person. Or not, as the case may be.” [1] Coming of age stories tend to be less gritty, dense, and sensitive, unlike New Adult fiction, which dips into subject matter that is for a more mature audience. As Molly Wetta has described, “These novels aim to bring the emotionally-intense story lines and fast-paced plotting of young adult fiction to stories that focus on a new range of experiences in life beyond the teenage years.” [2]


New adult literature is fairly new as a genre. It began as an official genre when St. Martin’s Press held a contest under the name in 2009. The name began pick up in 2012 when authors began marketing their self-published books as New Adult. Since then, there has been an increase in the number of books, both self-published and traditionally published, marketed to a “New Adult” audience. [3]


Characteristics of this subset of literature are similar to those of traditional young adult lit: coming of age and relationships. That being said, this genre targets individuals in the age range of 18-25 meaning that these themes are more adult in nature.[4]. In New Adult fiction, the main protagonist is going to be an older teenager or someone just entering his or her twenties. A lot of these characters are new freshmen in college, like the characters in FanGirl or Beautiful Disaster [5] [6]. These books also tend to fall under the category of romance, though recent publications have tried a more general approach; while young adult books deal with issues of approaching adulthood and blossoming sexuality, new adult is “erotic, dramatic, and funny”[7]. Relationships and sexuality are more present and more graphic and take a central role in these books. The relationships involved tend to be highly emotional and angst driven[4]. That being said, this is a new genre that is only just beginning to emerge. While these are themes that tie the books together, the main unifying characteristic is the audience: new adults. And since there is variety in this group there will be a variety in the books.

In the Context of YA Literature

New adult novels are intended to appeal to adult readers in the 18-25-year-old range. [8] They may be geared towards new adults, but they have also found popularity with both older and younger readers who are interested in exploring literature that bridges their two groups, much like the crossover. The new adult genre re-categorizes and markets fiction for readers who have outgrown their favorite high school characters. [9] As such, they tend to focus on experiences after high school while maintaining the fast pace and readability of YA literature.


  • Eva Ibbotson: A Company of Swans
  • Rainbow Rowell: Fangirl [8]
  • Robin McKinley: Sunshine
  • Jamie McGuire: Beautiful Disaster [8]
  • Tamora Pierce: Trickster’s Choice
  • Tracy Hunter Abramson: Undercurrents
  • Cora Carmack: Losing It [9]
  • Colleen Hoover: Slammed [9] Goodreads
  • Alison Rushby: The Heiresses [9]
  • Mari Mancusi: Tomorrowland [9])
  • Teri Brown: Velvet Undercover [9])
  • Stephanie Meyer: The Host
  • Gayle Forman: Just One Day [8]
  • Paul Rudnick: Gorgeous [8]
  • J. Lynn: Wait For You [8]
  • Maggie Stievater: Shiver [8]
  • Sarah J. Maas: A Court of Thorns and Roses [8]


  1. Jump up Brookover, Sophie, Liz Burns, and Kelly Jensen. “What’s New About New Adult?” The Horn Book (2014). Web. 2 Feb 2016.
  2. Jump up “Wetta, Molly. “What is New Adult Fiction, Anyway?” ‘’NoveList.’’ EBSCO, Sept. 2013. Web. 6 Feb. 2016.
  3. Jump up “Wetta, Molly. “What is New Adult Fiction, Anyway?” ‘’NoveList.’’ EBSCO, Sept. 2013. Web. 6 Feb. 2016.
  4. Jump up to:4.0 4.1 [1], Naughton, Julie. “New Adult Matures.” Publishers Weekly 261.28 (2014): 20. Print..
  5. Jump up Rowell, Rainbow. Fangirl. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2013. Print.
  6. Jump up McGuire, Jamie. Beautiful Disaster. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012. Print..
  7. Jump up [2], Engberg, Gillian, Donna Seaman, and Rebecca Vnuk. “New Adult Fiction.” Booklist 110.22 (2014): 6. Print.
  8. Jump up to:8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 [3], Wetta, Molly. “What is New Adult Fiction, Anyway?” ‘’NoveList.’’ EBSCO, Sept. 2013. Web. 6 Feb. 2016.
  9. Jump up to:9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 [4], Klems, Brian. “”New Adult”: The Next Big Thing?” ‘’The Writer’s Dig.’’ 15 Nov. 2013. Writer’s Digest. 2016. Web. 6 Feb. 2016.